The Treatment of Depression: Current Methods and Groundbreaking New Treatments

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Scientific Investigation
Paul Devlin
The Treatment of Depression
Current Methods and Groundbreaking New Treatments

Introduction
Depression is a very real and serious mental health condition which statistics show will affect 1 in 5 people, either directly or through a friend or relative suffering from the condition. Several neuroscience and genetic investigations clearly demonstrate that depression is a disorder of the brain, one which modern imaging techniques can reveal. Where in the past, the general consensus was that depression was a condition directly related to environment, new neural imaging technologies can show that physical changes are present in the brain of a depressed person and that by studying certain areas of the brain believed to be involved in the control of emotion, we can better understand the mechanisms of depression and the areas of the brain where these mechanisms take place or have an effect. As stated in Neuroimaging and depression: Current status and unresolved issues Author(s): Gotlib Ian H. ; Hamilton J. Paul Volume 17 2008

“Over the past decade, neuroscientists examining the ‘‘emotion circuitry’’ of the brain have documented the involvement of the limbic system, a complex of structures including the amygdala, hippocampus, insula, and parts of the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), in the experience and expression of emotional states. Among these structures, the amygdala and the ventral (i.e. bottom) aspect of the ACC, most often referred to as the subgenera ACC, have received the most attention from investigators interested in depression. Whereas the amygdala has been shown to play a prominent role in emotionally mediated attention, in assigning emotional significance to stimuli, and in remembering emotionally significant events, the subgenual ACC appears to mediate subjective experience of emotion and emotional reactions to stimuli, particularly stimuli associated with reward seeking. These two structures are involved directly in the experience and processing of emotion, but investigators have also examined cortical structures, most notably the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), that appears to be involved in the regulation of emotion.”

Symptoms of depression vary greatly from patient to patient but it is appropriate to list the most common and prevalent. As stated on the website mind.org.uk, depression is a state of low mood which can affect a person’s thoughts and feelings. This can then lead to changes in behaviour and aversion to normal activities. Depressed people often report very similar symptoms all usually report feelings of sadness and anxiety, intense feelings of worthlessness and hollowness. Symptoms often manifest themselves physically resulting in a loss of intrest in normal activities, the inability to experience pleasure in normally enjoyable activities, the inability to concentrate, weight loss, fatigue and panic attacks. Up until about 50 years ago depression was diagnosed as either a biological condition (endogenous) where there was an unknown biological reason for the person’s symptoms, or reactive, where an event in the person’s life, such as the death of a loved one initiated the depressive symptoms. The most universally accepted continuum is that both are major factors and that each can individually or both contribute to the depressive state. This investigation will look at the science of depression, the new technologies being used to establish and cure depressive symptoms and some ground breaking research which is currently being conducted worldwide to find new effective, fast acting treatments. Major studies are being carried out to establish new drugs which can utilise specific circuitry in the brain to overcome the problems associated with the treatment of depression.

Psychotherapy CBT and Depression
As stated on the AAFP website (http://www.aafp.org/afp/2006/0101/p83.html January 1 2006) Psychotherapy can often be the initial course of...
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